Review: Kymco UXV 500
Being asked to take a trip into the country and test an all-terrain vehicle like the Kymco UXV 500 is an offer not likely to be turned down, especially when the playground is a 3,350 hectare farm in the middle of the North Island.
Kymco agent for the Manawatu area, Mike Logie, arranged to take me to Otiwhiti Station which provided a decent area in which to give the UXV 500 a good workout.
Charlie Duncan, who co-owns Otiwhiti Station with his parents, says they've owned the UXV 500 for about a month now and it has already clocked up 250km (no you didn't read that incorrectly, that's 250km in one month). Charlie says he's very pleased with the machine's performance to date.
I had to admit to being surprised at the amount of distance the machine has covered in such a relatively short space of time, but then I hadn't taken into account the enormous acreage of farm it is being used on.
On arrival at Otiwhiti Station, I'm introduced to Charlie Duncan, who points to a hill, the peak of which is perhaps 2-3km away, and says "That's where we're going."
It's about this point in time that I see the track leading up to the 'hill' which is in fact a small mountain. The track by the way is at least 300mm deep in mud. It turned out that it was almost twice that deep in places further along the track.
Any visions I had had though of being covered in mud after the first few metres of the trip are allayed a couple of hours later, when I emerge from the vehicle with no more than a few splatters of mud on my jeans, most of which probably got there from getting out to open and close gates.
Testing the UXV 500
We set off with Charlie at the wheel. Initially I wondered at what point I'm going to get a crack at driving the machine, but it isn't until we reach the third or fourth gate that I start to realise it's probably best I leave the driving to someone who's actually driven the track many times before.
The reason for this is that I'm now looking down into a valley which looks as if it's a couple of hundred metres below us – with not so much as a tree to stop us should we slide off the track. And we're still nowhere near the top.
Otiwhiti Station not only operates as a working sheep and cattle farm with a few horses thrown in for good measure, it's also a cadet farm where students spend an entire year learning the necessary skills for them to be placed in permanent employment at the end of the year-long experience.
With such an inordinately large area of ground to cover (there are 70km of track on the station) it's important that all farm workers are competent handlers of all-terrain vehicles in their various forms.
Side-by-side machines, such as the UXV 500, give tutors the ability to instruct students while sitting safely at their side, seat belt on.
The rest of the drive to the top of the 500m peak proves to be no problem for the UXV 500's 33 horsepower, 500cc 4 stroke double overhead camshaft engine, even as the muddy track gets narrower and deeper as we climb.
The machine is running 'two up' today, although it's not hard to imagine that even if it was carrying the full 190kg it's rated to carry in its tray, it would still traverse this path with comparative ease.
Having reached the top and passed that test with flying colours, we're now looking at an equally impressive (and equally muddy) downhill trip on the opposite side of the hill. By now I'm thinking this'll be interesting.
With a combination of Charlie Duncan's adept driving ability and the UXV's exceptional all-four wheel engine-braking capability, we soon reach the bottom with as much ease as we'd traversed the uphill gradient.
Once we've reached a more-driveable part of our tour, our host figures it's time I get a crack at driving us back to base.
The UXV 500 is very user-friendly and rides incredibly smoothly, even with its knobbly tyre pattern. It can be operated in either two- or four-wheel drive and in low or high range.
It travelled the 2-3km back to the yard at 35km/h without revving the guts out of the engine too, yet I could have gone faster in comfort.
Some features I really liked were the large windscreen, complete with windscreen wiper, as well as the detachable mesh side curtains that I'm sure were partially responsible for my clean state of clothing when the trip was over.
The machine is fitted with an effective hand-operated park brake with an audible warning device. Reverse and neutral are selected as with any automatic transmission lever on the centre console.
The UXV 500's crowning glory by my reckoning, though, was its ability to go up any hill courtesy of its diff lock and four wheel engine braking on a downhill slope.
The only negative I could find was that when I came to reverse it into the shed back at the yard, I had to turn my head to see behind due to the lack of a rear view mirror. However the guys from Kymco say that fitting such a mirror is not a problem.
Dave Borlase, general manager of Kymco Motorcycles, who is onsite during the test, tells me that the interior of the UXV can be made even more mud-free by fitting aftermarket spats behind the front wheels, although I believe this isn't a requirement unless you are planning to take a cross-country trip dressed in your Sunday best.
With a 550kg towing capacity and its ability to carry 190kg in the deck, Duncan says the machine ticks all the right boxes for his application. He must be happy with his purchase, as the test machine is actually one of two MXU 500s he operates here.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable such a tortuous route was made, both as a passenger and the driver. If you're in the market for a side-by-side ATV, the Kymco UXV 500 is well-worth checking out.
- Four wheel engine braking
- Diff lock
- Operates in two- and four-wheel drive modes
- Minimal mud splash inside cabin
- Comprehensive set of gauges
- 190kg carrying capacity in deck
- 550kg towing capacity
- High and low ratio options
- No rear view mirror fitted (however easily remedied)
- Front bush guard
- Independent dual A-Arm suspension front and rear
- Roll cage with padded headrests and seatbelts
- Towing capacity: 550kg
- Carrying capacity: 190kg
- CVT Auto transmission with diff lock 4x4 shaft drive with high and low gear 2WD/4WD
- Digital backlit dash and fuel gauge
- Speedometer, odometer and trip metre
- High beam indicator, neutral, reverse and temperature lights
- Hand brake, hydraulic dual discs front with single rear
- Four-wheeled engine braking
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